Follow The Leader: Professional Wrestling

  • Lou Thesz is credited with innovating several wrestling moves that would become common place, the German suplex being the most common, the power bomb perhaps being the most popular, but the Thesz Press being the most obvious.
  • In 1934, the Masked Marvel gimmick made its way to Mexico in then fledgling promotion EMLL. Mascara Maravilla was so popular more masked luchadors such as El Santo were promoted by Salvador Lutteroth. El Santo himself became so popular that the entire "Lucha Libre" subculture was pretty much kicked off by him.
  • The National Wrestling Alliance forming collaborative agreements between pro wrestling organizations all over the world lead to The International Wrestling Association in an effort to compete against what was basically a giant wrestling trust to any "outlaw" promotions not allowed to joinnote . Later came the Independent Wrestling Association (starting with IWA Mid-South), The Allied Independent Wrestling Wrestling Federations, Pro Wrestling International and The World Wrestling League, who while not as close to the NWA model, still owe their existence to the concept it started. The World Wrestling Network and Global Pro Wrestling Alliance are even further from the original mold but still pay respect to the NWA.
  • While the term was already in use, Gorgeous George pretty much became the progenitor of The Gimmick in professional wrestling as we know it in 1950. Although, many of his more successful imitators, such as Buddy Rogers, weren't actually examples of the trope he named. Rogers himself was different enough to spawn his own "Nature Boy" archetype, Ric Flair being the most famous.
  • In the late 1970s, when "Superstar" Billy Graham defeated the then-perennially popular Bruno Sammartino for the WWF Championship and held onto the title for the better part of a year. While Graham remained a heel during his first title run and wasn't necessarily cheered by the audience, he was a lot more charismatic and amusing than most of WWE's faces at the time, proving that wrestling heels could do a lot more than just anger the crowd and make the faces look good. Not only did Graham eventually turn face, but his costume and gimmick were more or less copied by Jesse Ventura, Hulk Hogan and other famous wrestlers, and his Lovable Rogue persona was a profound influence on Eddie Guerrero - whom Graham personally admired - and others.
  • Since Shawn Michaels became the massive legend that he is after breaking off from his partner Marty Jannetty, it seems the main purpose of a tag team sometimes is to find out which member will become a mega star and which one, well…won't. WWE alone has tried this so many times to varying results in the years since the Rockers that two or three people would be necessary for enough hands and fingers to count them all.
  • The "anything goes" style of Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling, trope namer for Garbage Wrestler, spawned many imitators. Although this was exactly what FMW wanted to happen, W*ING and IWA Japan were even acknowledged as rivals, openly. The latter was amusing because IWA was a breakaway from WWC, which was one of FMW's biggest influences, proving this trope is very cyclic.
  • The Universal Wrestling Association and Lucha Libre Internacional in Mexico starting a trios division lead to CMLL starting one of its own, while WCCW also followed suit in the USA with its "World Six Man Tag Team Titles"".
  • After the arrival of Hulk Hogan, from 1994-1996, WCW revamped themselves into "WWF Lite", until the arrival of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. And the rest is history... Before that, WCW head booker Jim Herd decided to try and mimic the WWF's success with the "Rock 'n Wrestling Connection" by tying WCW to another aspect of pop culture — namely, movies. Fortunately, he dropped that idea after the first shots, a wrestler based on The Wizard of Oz and a Pay-Per-View appearance by RoboCop, failed miserably, but it wasn't Herd's first bad idea, and definitely not his last.
  • Like FMW before it, the success of ECW led to the founding of a number of other "hardcore" and "deathmatch" wrestling federations, and no less an organization than the WWF followed their lead. WCW tried to foster a backlash to this, painting themselves as a "family-friendly" wrestling show, but they soon jumped on the bandwagon after that posture failed. After all, how "family-friendly" can a show about people beating the snot out of each other be?
  • Ring Warriors was the first promotion to stream shows online, and though it did not find success in its target market(USA) for about fifteen years, it beat the local national promotions in Africa and Europe. Ice Ribbon's 19'Oclock was perhaps the first internet streaming show to find success in its actual target market, as well as overseas.
  • Naturally with the success of the New World Order every fed in the universe even your local mom and pop indy needed to have a stable trying to take over the company. One of the nWo's first imitations, D-Generation X, was also one that was the least like it. Let that sink in. Every fed including the mom and pop indy also needs to do an evil scheming authority figure whose sole reason for existing seems to be making life miserable for the babyface du jour. Naturally said babyface is almost always a badass nineties anti hero.
  • Similar to the case of Billy Graham, the Attitude Era of the late 90s the likes of The Rock and Stone Cold popularised the anti-hero in wrestling so that for a good while it wasn't just faces vs heels, it was more like heels that got booed vs heels that got cheered.
  • Eric Bischoff noted that during the Monday Night Wars, when WCW started upping the numbers of Pay-Per-View events, the WWF would follow suit.
  • It may be hard - even all but impossible - to believe now, but as late as 1995, the women of WWF were a lot more prim and proper than their male counterparts, especially when it came to the costumes they wore; when Miss Elizabeth, Randy "Macho Man" Savage's manager, whipped off her skirt at the inaugural SummerSlam in 1988, resulting in a (modest by current standards) Panty Shot, it was huge news. The WWF's attempt to revive their women's division started with putting the belt on respected wrestler Jacqueline but with the success of Sunny and Sable, two hot blonde bombshells that were pure T&A, lead to them bringing in more women to feature in magazine spreads such as Debra, Ivory, Tori and Trish Stratus-simply lucking out that some of them were or would become respected wrestlers. Thus the WWE Divas were born.
  • Chyna was presented as an anti-diva who competed with the men and won the Intercontinental title three times. Over the next few years there was a lot more emphasis on talent over looks in women's wrestling in wrestlers such as Lita, Molly Holly and Jazz being pushed to the top of the division. Trish Stratus as well who started out as eye candy but worked to improve her wrestling and did so to the point Vince was able to make her the face of the division for several years.
  • All Star Championship Wrestling, Com Pro Oklahoma and Steel Rage Pro Wrestling all brought out "X Divisions" after TNA got started in 2002.
  • The whole Diva Search/making models into wrestlers initiative from WWE that followed said golden era for the Divas was actually a result of Trish's success at taking levels in badass.
  • TNA began creating PPV events centered around specific gimmick matches (eg. "Lockdown" a PPV that had all cage matches on the card) so WWE started releasing gimmick PPVs such as "Extreme Rules" (every match is a different gimmick match), "TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs" (featured a ladder match, table match, chair match and TLC match among others) and "Night of Champions" (every title is on the line). This arguably started years earlier with WCW and their annual Uncensored PPV. Like Extreme Rules, every match on the card had a gimmick. TNA cannot take credit for originality here, though it can still say WWE followed its lead for a change.
  • In 2008, John Morrison and The Miz debuted an online talk show on WWE.com known as The Dirt Sheet. This program was instrumental in getting the tag team over and showcasing their personalities, and also generated quite a few hits on the site. Within weeks, other online shows started appearing from the likes of Cryme Tyme, Matt Striker, and Scotty Goldman. The only one that lasted longer than a couple weeks was Cryme Tyme's Word Up, which resulted in a feud between the two tag teams. In 2011, lightning struck again, as the success of Zack Ryder's Youtube series, Z! True Long Island Story, led to a number of other underutilized wrestlers starting their own Youtube accounts, including Ryder's former tag-team partner, Curt Hawkins (which WWE quickly killed).